Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal

Proposals for Green Deals vary in how much they discuss the growth of the economy. Often missing in these discussions is the realization that growth can be life-affirming or result in the destruction of life. It’s a crucial distinction.Image result for new green deal degrowth

The Green New Deal has gone mainstream. The idea is to combine a massive federal job creation program with bold action to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels and protect Indigenous rights. Long a buzzword in the U.S. Green Party, a Green New Deal resolution was introduced in February by insurgent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’ve solidified its scope and demands. Now, Canadian leftist organizations like Courage are presenting their own proposals for a “Green New Deal of the North.” And in March, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh began voicing support for the Green New Deal idea.

But some are wary of proposals like the Green New Deal – they say that it only “greens” the capitalist imperative of perpetual economic growth, which is the true cause of environmental destruction. [This ignores the reality that growth can be either life affirming OR destructive to the planet.]

Degrowth is mostly an academic movement, focused on challenging mainstream economics. There have been some degrowth policy proposals, but there is not always agreement in the movement about those policies. The Green New Deal, in contrast, is mostly a policy platform. Those who back it and worked on it may be academics and activists, but the focus is on putting together a visionary set of policies.

Here are unique degrowth policies:

  • Degrowth would reduce the working week and support companies to facilitate job sharing between employees.
  • Ecological tax reform, taxing expenditure and polluting activity instead of income. High taxes on income from capital and inheritance.
  • Rehabilitate existing housing stock, with high taxes on empty homes and speculation.
  • Reduce advertising, with strict criteria for advertising in public spaces, like in Grenoble, France.
  • Basic and maximum income.

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